Powers of Attorney

What is a Power of Attorney?

A power of attorney is a legal document giving someone legal authorization to do certain things for you. This person is called the attorney in fact or agent. The person who signs a power of attorney making someone else their agent is called the principal. To become an agent a person does not have to be an attorney. There are varying degrees of each power of attorney, and a power of attorney can be for a special, general, or limited purpose.

What is the purpose of a power of attorney?

A power of attorney allows your agent to legally act in your name. 

What are the types of power of attorney?

The two types of power of attorney that people use the most are general and special.

  1. A special power of attorney gives the agent the right to do certain things within a certain amount of time. 
  2. A general power of attorney gives the agent the right to do many (most) things. 

There is a difference between a general and a general durable power of attorney. If you become unable to handle your affairs (become incompetent or incapacitated), a general power of attorney ends. If you have signed a general durable power of attorney, the agent still has the power to handle your affairs if you become incompetent.                         

Who can give someone power of attorney?

You must be an adult and of sound mind to give another person power of attorney.  

Does the power of attorney end?

Yes. There are four instances when a power of attorney ends; it ends if it has an ending date, it ends when you become incapacitated and the power of attorney is not a durable one, it ends when you revoke it, or it ends when you die. A limited power of attorney usually names the ending date. A general power of attorney ends when you become disabled or incapacitated. A durable power of attorney ends when the principal dies. If you do not want your power of attorney to end until you die, you need a general durable power of attorney.

What is a durable power of attorney?       

A durable power of attorney can be for business and financial decisions.  There are certain requirements:

  • It must be in writing,
  • It must name the person that you want to be your agent, and
  • It must say how the power of attorney is to be used.
  • It must be signed and notarized.

Are there advantages of a general durable power of attorney?

With a general durable power of attorney, you can say who you want to take care of everything if you cannot take care of your own affairs. If you have a durable power of attorney, the court may not have to name a guardian for you if you become incapacitated.  

Can I stop a power of attorney?

You have the right to end your power of attorney at any time. This is known as revoking a power of attorney. 

Different situations call for different planning. Appointment of power of attorney is a very important decision. An estate planning attorney can advise you on all the implications of powers of attorneys and how they can be used to help protect you, your family, and your business.